Geographic Data for Ancient Near Eastern Archaeological Sites

Site Placemarks for google earth

Olof Pedersén

A preliminary set of placemarks (ANE.kmz) for Google Earth of a selection of the most important archaeological sites in the Ancient Near East can be downloaded here (as an alternative try right-click or ctrl-click).

Ancient Near East Placemarks on Google Earth with alphabetic listing.

ANE.kmz works with Google Earth, which has to be downloaded (free at earth.google.com). When opened inside Google Earth, ANE.kmz gives, to the left, an alphabetic list of ancient sites and, to the right, on the satellite photo the same sites marked. For the moment, there are some 2500 sites with modern names; among them some 400 have ancient names. Additions of more sites are planned.

Ancient name is written without parenthesis. Modern name is within parenthesis. Most sites have been identified on the satelite photos. However, a few sites are only placed in the possible area, e.g. in a village with the right name when the site may be outside (if so marked with question mark ? after the parenthesis around the modern name). Question mark after ancient name means that identification is not yet proven. Question mark efter modern name (but before parenthesis around the name) means spelling of name uncertain. Two question marks ?? at the end indicate that it may not be a site but could possibly be a natural hill.

The preliminary work has received support from the University of Uppsala, the Urban Mind Project at Mistra, and the Excellence Cluster Topoi at Freie Universität Berlin.

A short introduction to the project dealing with ANE on Google Earth can be read in my manuscript paper Ancient Near East on Google Earth: Problems, Preliminary results, and Prospect.

New installation

With Google Earth already installed, just double click the ANE.kmz icon. You find all archaeological sites listed in your left panel of Google Earth under Places/My Places. They can be rearranged, deleted or extended later on by yourself. Double click the name of a city in your left panel in order to go to the site. (Due to a program bug, people having Adobe Photoshop may experience that this program tries to take over the .kmz file. If so, choose open with Google Earth, or open the .kmz file from inside Google Earth.)

There are two options after the first session.
1. You never save when leaving Google Earth. Then you keep your ANE.kmz and double click the icon each time you want to use it.
2. The alternative is that you save when leaving Google Earth when beeing asked. Now you keep the placemarks in your left panel. If you use this possibility it is important that you delete the ANE.kmz file because otherwise you will get duplicate names.

Updating

Two alternatives:
1. If you never saved before leaving Google Earth you can just throw the old ANE.kmz away and use a new downloaded ANE.kmz.
2. If you saved, you have all cities listed inside Google Earth. Go to your left panel and mark My Places (if you want to get rid of all there) or all the site names from the old ANE list (if you have more to keep in My Places). Delete what you have marked. Now double click the new ANE.kmz icon and save when leaving Google Earth, if you want to keep the new placemarks. If you don't delete the old ones, there will be double names on every site in Google Earth. Delete the ANE.kmz file if you saved the placemarkes inside Google Earth.

Until someone else comes up with a better, more permanent solution, these placemarks may be updated. Any correction or addition with coordinates could be sent to Olof Pedersén. No support is offered.

Water Placemarks for google earth

A preliminary overview of the waters of the Mesopotamian floodplain can be downloaded here.

Mesopotamian floodplain with modern waters.

Represented are Modern waters systems (Euphrates, Tigris, Drain), Islamic canals, Ancient waters, and Geological waters. It is based on my own survey of modern waters, some archaeological reconstructions (often Neo-Babylonian according to Gasche 1998) and geological water reconstructions (Aqrawi et al. 2006). The archaeological reconstructions of Ancient waters shown here are incomplete and provisional and most detailed in the Babylon area.

Click in the left panel to show the selection of waters you are interested in. Installation and updating work like ANE.kmz above.

A short introduction to the project dealing with waters especially in the Babylon area can be found in my paper Waters at Babylon.

Cuneiform Site Index (CSI): A gazetteer of findspots for cuneiform texts in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East

Rune Rattenborg

This index contains primary spatial, toponym, attribute, and external link information on approximately two hundred and fifty locations across the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East where texts written in cuneiform and derived scripts have been found. The index has been prepared by Rune Rattenborg as part of Memories For Life: Materiality and Memory of Ancient Near Eastern Inscribed Private Objects a research project based at Uppsala University and the University of Cambridge financed by a Research Project Grant from the Swedish Research Council (grant no. 2016-02028). The intention is to continuously update this index to provide an easy digital geographical reference for Assyriologists, Near Eastern Archaeologists, and other researchers with an interest in the cuneiform script. New download versions will appear regularly. Time permitting, we will aim to expand the index to contain also basic periodisation and bibliographical information for easy reference, along with quantitative data.

The current version of the index is stored with the University of Uppsala Department of Linguistics and Philology, hosted by Jakob Andersson and is available for download through links here. The index is supplied in .kml (suitable for use with GIS applications and Google Earth), .csv (for database integration) and .geojson (for GIS and web mapping applications).

All resources are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/).

Index field categories

This descriptive text is downloadable as .rtf. The index contains a total 14 fields, namely one primary ID, three integer fields for accuracy and data links, eight string fields with toponyms, and two spatial data fields. Index fields include site_id (string)accuracy (integer), cdli_provenience_id (integer), pleiades_id (integer), com_name (string), anc_name (string), transc_name (string)ara_name (string), fas_name (string), heb_name (string)gre_name (string),cdli_legacy (string),lat_wgs1984 (integer) and lot_wgs1984 (integer). Coordinates given use the WGS 1984 geographic coordinate reference system (EPSG 4326). Site locations have been traced from archaeological gazetteers and web mapping services (e.g. Pleiades and OpenStreetMap) and digitally generated from optical recognition using current and legacy satellite imagery datasets in QGIS 3.6. Below is a description of the individual data fields contained in this index.

site_id (Primary ID)

The primary ID for each record is an arbitrary and unique three-letter code.

accuracy (Locational accuracy)

This field gives an assessment of the level of accuracy with which the geographical location given can be said to relate to the historical location on a four-tier scale, being certain, being representative, 1 being tentative, and being unknown. Accuracy levels reflect site visibility and delineation. Where a discrete site outline can be traced, the site has been drawn as a polygon and the location derived from the resulting centroid, giving a value of 3. Where the site can be positively located, but not drawn (e.g. Bisutūn), the value is given as 2. Where a site location can be placed with reasonable certainty, but not positively located, the value is given as 1. Where the location cannot be defined with any reasonable degree of certainty, the value is 0.

cdli_provenience_id (Primary ID)

The numerical provenience ID for the corresponding site in the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI) catalogue, if available. The previously employed set of provenience values can be found in the cdli_legacy field (see below). As integer record IDs will be employed by the CDLI going forward, legacy provenience values should be employed for reference only.

pleiades_id (Pleiades ID)

The primary ID of the corresponding place record in Pleiades: A Gazetteer of Ancient Places, if available. The stable link will be https://pleiades.stoa.org/places/[PleiadesID]. Please note that, while the record entity in the current index matches the record entity in Pleiades, the geographical location of the record contained in this index and the associated Pleiades record may not be the same. Records in this index not found in Pleiades will be added to the latter repository in due course.

com_name (Common name)

This field gives a common toponym for the location, most often the one by which the site has commonly appeared in the literature. It can be used for initial information searches, and also serves as the primary toponym in spatial index files supplied below. As names in this field rarely abide by uniform rules of transcription and are drawn from across different languages, they are poorly suited to be used as formal reference names.

anc_name (Ancient name)

This field gives a common rendering of the ancient name of the site in question, if known, based on readings from cuneiform texts. Places can, of course, have many names, and the current index is not intended to provide an exhaustive collection of all variant ancient writings or toponyms attested for individual records.

transc_name (Transcribed name)

This field give the modern name in Latin script maintained from the original when dealing with Maltese or Turkish toponyms or transcribed as accurately and consistently as possible from Arabic, Farsi, Greek or Hebrew toponyms. Where names in multiple languages are found, the transcribed name is drawn from the principal language of the national entity currently associated with the record in question. 

ara_name (Arabic name)

The Arabic name of the site, if applicable and available. Values derive from archaeological reports or from online resources e.g. Wikipedia (Arabic) and OpenStreetMap. Note that the spelling of toponyms in Arabic may vary, and so discrepancies between values given in this index and other repositories may occur.

fas_name (Farsi name)

The Farsi name of the site, if applicable and available. Values derive from archaeological reports or from online resources, e.g. Wikipedia (Farsi) and OpenStreetMap. Note that the spelling of toponyms in Farsi may vary, and so discrepancies between values given in this index and other repositories may occur.

gre_name (Greek name)

The Greek name of the site, if applicable and available. Values derive from archaeological reports or from online resources, e.g. Wikipedia (English or Greek) and OpenStreetMap. Note that the spelling of toponyms in Greek may vary, and so discrepancies between values given in this index and other repositories may occur.

heb_name (Hebrew name)

The Hebrew name of the site, if applicable and available. Values derive from archaeological reports or from online resources, e.g. Wikipedia (Hebrew) and OpenStreetMap. Note that the spelling of toponyms in Hebrew may vary, and so discrepancies between values given in this index and other repositories may occur.

cdli_legacy (CDLI legacy provenience)

All associated legacy provenience values found in the current catalogue of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initative (www.cdli.ucla.edu) are given in this field, separated by ” : “. Where both a certain and a speculative value for the same provenience record exists (that is, the uncertain value is followed by “?”), the latter has not been included.

lat_wgs1984 (Latitude)

Latitude of the record location in decimal degrees in the WGS 1984 geographic coordinate reference system (EPSG 4326).

lon_wgs1984 (Longitude)

Longitude of the record location in decimal degrees in the WGS 1984 geographic coordinate reference system (EPSG 4326).